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Guest Post: Free Your Classroom from Cell Phones

May 23, 2018

Today’s Guest Post comes from Dr. Albena Ivanova, who is Associate Professor of OM at Robert Morris University in Pennsylvania.

Last semester I found this article on the APA website: https://www.apa.org/ed/precollege/undergrad/ptacc/no-mobile-phones.pdf

The professor, whose name is not listed in the paper, uses a positive reinforcement strategy to provide a disincentive for the students to use cell phones during class. He/she gives an opportunity for the students to earn bonus points if they leave their cell phones on the front desk for the entire class the entire semester.

I tried this technique in one of my classes this semester (see the photo with each student’s spot numbered) and it worked well. I surveyed the students at the end of the semester and 84% stated that they did not miss their cell phones during class, 84% did not feel anxious during class without cell phones, 84% did not feel disconnected from the world without cell phones, 68% stated they were able to focus better, and 68% said were able to take better notes.

I will definitely use this technique again in my future classes. However, if the class relies too heavy on computer use, then the computer itself becomes a distraction. That is why I would recommend using this technique only if the computer usage in class is minimal.

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